Talk about a best-case scenario Friday evening for Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears are one neutral court game away from a spot in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball final four.

No. 1 Bowdoin held up its end of the bargain with what has become a trademark performance, sinking 11 3-pointers and forcing 23 turnovers in a 63-53 Sweet 16 victory over the University of Rochester in Scranton, Pa.

The second half of Friday’s doubleheader at Long Center bore equally good tidings for the Polar Bears. Host and No. 3 Scranton went bitterly cold from the field and fell 48-45 to Mary Washington of Fredericksburg, Va.

Instead of having to drown out a mostly hostile crowd of 2,000-or-so Royals rooters tonight, Bowdoin (29-1) will battle Mary Washington (29-2) before a bipartisan gathering of family and friends at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the championship round next Friday and Saturday in Springfield, Mass.

Jill Anelauskas paced the Polar Bears with 21 points, including three 3-pointers and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Eileen Flaherty added 19 points on the strength of four 3-pointers to complement 10 rebounds and seven steals.

Alexa Kaubris of Rumford scored 12 points in a team-high 36 minutes of action. The sophomore forward hit two straight lay-ups to christen the second half and boost Bowdoin to a double-digit lead.

Rochester (22-6) never crept closer than four points thereafter. Alex Porter finished with 15 points and a game-high 13 points for the Yellowjackets. Julie Marriott chipped in 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

Bowdoin limited Rochester’s leading scorer during the season, Danielle Muller, to four points.

With Flaherty and point guard Katie Cummings (eight assists, four steals) leading the Bowdoin resistance, Rochester barely mustered more field goal attempts (18) than turnovers (15) in the first half. Bowdoin dropped 7-of-12 from beyond the 3-point arc to build a 29-22 halftime lead.

Kaubris’ two baskets created an 11-point cushion, and two straight 3-pointers by Flaherty re-established a nine-point advantage, 45-36, with 11 minutes left.

Anelauskas delivered nine of Bowdoin’s final 11 points, highlighted by a trey with 3:15 to play.

Julia Loonin added eight points for the Polar Bears, who committed only 11 turnovers for the second straight game. Rochester concluded with 23 giveaways.

Two links to Bowdoin’s successful recent past tried to stop the Polar Bears’ present push for a title. Bowdoin graduates Corinne Pellegrino (2003) and Courtney Trotta (2004) are Rochester assistant coaches.

Bowdoin padded its winning streak to 14 games and extended the longest current run of Elite Eight appearances by a Division III women’s program to six. The Polar Bears last won the regional in 2004, defeating Scranton at home, 71-58.

Tonight’s sectional summit is a rematch of a Sweet 16 contest played last year at Hill Gymnasium in Gorham. Bowdoin lured Mary Washington into foul trouble and ousted the Eagles, 62-54, outscoring the Eagles 18-5 from the free-throw line. Flaherty scored 29 points.

To earn its shot at redemption, Mary Washington smothered Scranton into 28 percent proficiency from the field and knocked out the last surviving member of last year’s final four. The Royals rattled the rim at a 1-for-15 clip from 3-point range.

Lisa Tracy led the Eagles with 15 points. Leigh Kampman added nine and 6-foot-3 junior center Liz Hickey eight.


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